White Labor Cannot Be Free While Black Labor Is Branded! Freedom Draws No Color Line

Submitted by AWL on 14 October, 2013 - 6:10

The Independent Socialist League is unalterably opposed to all racial, national and religious discrimination. It stands for the full social, political and economic equality of Negroes and all other minority national, racial and religious groups.

Jim Crow is still the shame of America; and while anti-Semitism does not play as obvious a role as anti-Negro discrimination, there are numerous signs that it is on the increase. The men of Rankin's stripe are as anti-Jewish as they are anti-Negro and have to be fought wherever their foul ideas arise. Whether it be Negroes who are discriminated against, or the Jewish people, or Mexican-American workers in our Southwest, or Catholics, anything which is used to set worker against worker weakens labor and helps to keep ALL workers in subjection.

In the midst of the general decay of American society which accompanies the preparation for World War III, one
of the few bright spots is the tendency to lessen the legal discrimination against and loosen up on the segregation of the Negro people. In order to widen the domestic market, and to make more believable the claim that America is engaged in a world-wide struggle for democracy, the courts, government departments, and even a few capitalists have been talking about and putting into partial effect a greater degree of equal rights for Negroes.

There has been as yet much more talk than action in this field. In fact, the repeated cynical sellouts on the civil-rights program by both major parties in Congress indicate that they are much more interested in keeping civil rights as a campaign issue than in giving any rights to the Negroes.

Yet progress has been made. More Negroes are registering and voting in the South than ever before. More of them are daring to move into white districts in the North, and are entering the major sports and professions.

Labor Must Clean House

All these gains, to be sure, have been made within the framework of a general Jim Crow policy and practice both in the North and the South. The gains only point up how far the Negro people have to go before they really achieve equality of status in America. But every gain eases the road for the next one. Every gain gives the Negroes courage and self-confidence, and lessens the powers of resistance of the Jim-Crow-minded whites.

The Negroes, or at least a section of them, have always struggled for equality in America. But for some years now they have had a powerful ally. Since the rise of the CIO in the mass production industries with its official anti-discrimination policy, tens of thousands of Negroes have found their way into industry and into the organized life of the unions. They have struggled on the picket lines side by side with the white workers. They have thus become more integrated into the major industries, and have gained a new status both in the Negro community itself and in the nation as a whole.

Much remains to be desired in the practice of even the most advanced CIO unions with regard to the Negroes, and many AFL and independent unions still disgrace the American labor movement by blatant Jim Crow policies. Independent Socialists have as one of their chief tasks Inside the labor movement to educate and struggle for complete living equality for Negroes.

The integration of the Negroes into industry has been a product of the last war and of continuing high employment. Although the ISL is against a policy of "super-seniority" for Negroes, as a harmful policy which tends to divide the labor movement, it seeks to do all in its power to prevent discriminatory lay-offs and downgrading of Negroes when industry slackens its pace.

The ISL stands for the right of all Negroes and other minorities to live and work without discrimination, whether they be workers, professionals, or even capitalists. But as socialists we are particularly concerned with the great mass of Negroes who are workers.

A Part of the Socialist Struggle

In the political and social conflicts which lie ahead, the struggle against discrimination and the struggle for the political and economic emancipation of the working class will form part of the same fight against a decaying capitalism.

In this situation the upper-class Negroes will pursue, as usual, a policy of keeping the Negro masses tied to capitalist politics.

The ISL advocates the independence of all workers from capitalist parties and capitalist politics. We also urge upon the Negro trade-unionists that they start to contest the political leadership now wielded in the Negro community by the rich. Only thus can they lead the Negroes away from their futile alliance with and dependence on the capitalist parties, and toward alliance with the working class as a whole.

Independent Socialists rejoice in every gain made by every member of the minority groups in America, they seek everywhere to educate and struggle for complete equality and against all forms of discrimination. In the legislative field, the fight for the civil-rights program is today the front line of baffle for equality. Every kind of mass pressure
must be applied to force the betrayers of the Negro people in both capitalist parties to fulfil their cynically given campaign promises.

As revolutionary socialists we believe that the complete emancipation of the minority groups in America will come only when all workers, regardless of color or creed, have united and achieved real political and economic power as the first step towards socialism. But such unity and such power can only be achieved if we struggle today for equality, for democracy, for full employment and a rising standard of living for all. The struggle for full social, political and economic equality now is for the ISL an indispensable part of the struggle for socialism.